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Expat Exchange - Best Places to See While on a Look-See Trip to El Salvador (Plus, Itineraries) 2024
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El Zonte, El Salvador

Best Places to See While on a Look-See Trip to El Salvador (Plus, Itineraries)

By Betsy Burlingame

William Russell
William Russell

Summary: For those contemplating a move to El Salvador without a specific locale in mind, embarking on a look-see or exploratory journey to explore various expat havens can provide invaluable insights. Here are some top suggestions for places to explore while scouting out El Salvador.

Embarking on a Look-See trip to El Salvador is an essential step for anyone considering relocation to this vibrant country. Such a trip allows potential expats, retirees, and digital nomads to explore the local culture, infrastructure, and lifestyle firsthand. It provides an opportunity to visit various cities and towns, assess the living conditions, and determine if they align with personal preferences and needs. This exploratory journey is invaluable for making an informed decision about where to settle down and start a new chapter of life in El Salvador.

Recommended Itineraries

For a comprehensive Look-See trip in El Salvador, it's important to tailor your itinerary based on the length of your stay. A 10-day trip could focus on the most popular expat destinations, while a 20-day trip allows for a deeper exploration of the country's diverse regions. For a 10-day visit, consider starting in the capital, San Salvador, then moving on to Santa Tecla, El Tunco, and Suchitoto. If you have 20 days, extend your journey to include La Libertad, San Miguel, Apaneca, and the Ruta de las Flores, ensuring you experience a mix of urban and rural life.

San Salvador

San Salvador, the capital city, is a bustling metropolis with a population of over half a million. It offers a blend of modern amenities and traditional Salvadoran culture. Expats and digital nomads are drawn to its vibrant nightlife, diverse culinary scene, and relatively low cost of living compared to other capital cities in the region. The city's proximity to both the mountains and the coast makes it an ideal base for exploring the country.

Travel Tip: Don't miss the opportunity to visit the National Palace and the Metropolitan Cathedral for a taste of the city's rich history and architecture.

Santa Tecla

Santa Tecla is a charming city near San Salvador, known for its pleasant climate and friendly community. It's a popular choice for expats seeking a quieter lifestyle while still having access to urban conveniences. The city boasts a growing economy, cultural festivals, and a variety of international restaurants. Its cost of living remains affordable, and the city is well-connected to the capital for those needing to commute.

Travel Tip: Explore the Paseo El Carmen, a lively street filled with cafes, bars, and live music, perfect for an evening stroll.

El Tunco

El Tunco is a small beach town famous for its surf culture and laid-back atmosphere. It's a haven for expats and digital nomads who prefer a slower pace of life and a strong sense of community. The cost of living is low, and the town offers a variety of beachfront accommodations and seafood restaurants. El Tunco is also a great place for entrepreneurs looking to tap into the tourism industry.

Travel Tip: Catch a sunset surf session or take a surf lesson at one of the town's renowned beaches, such as Playa El Sunzal.


Suchitoto is a colonial town that exudes old-world charm with its cobblestone streets and preserved Spanish architecture. It's a cultural hub with a slower pace of life, attracting expats interested in the arts, history, and a tranquil environment. The cost of living is reasonable, and the town hosts numerous cultural events throughout the year. Suchitoto is also known for its stunning views of Lake Suchitlán.

Travel Tip: Visit the Centro Arte Para La Paz to learn about local art and history, and enjoy the serene gardens.

La Libertad

La Libertad is a coastal city that's popular among expats for its beautiful beaches and seafood cuisine. It's an ideal spot for those looking to enjoy a tropical climate and oceanfront living without breaking the bank. The city has a growing expat community and offers a range of amenities, including shopping centers and international schools. La Libertad is also a gateway to some of the country's best surf spots.

Travel Tip: Spend a day at the La Libertad Pier, where you can watch local fishermen bring in their catch and sample fresh seafood from the market.

San Miguel

San Miguel is one of El Salvador's largest cities, known for its lively festivals, particularly the November Carnival. The city offers a mix of urban life and cultural experiences, with a lower cost of living than the capital. Expats enjoy the local markets, shopping centers, and the proximity to volcanic hot springs. San Miguel is also a commercial and agricultural hub, providing opportunities for business-minded individuals.

Travel Tip: Explore the nearby Volcán de San Miguel for hiking and breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.

Apaneca and Ruta de las Flores

Apaneca, along with the Ruta de las Flores, is a region known for its coffee plantations, lush forests, and charming towns like Juayúa, Ataco, and Nahuizalco. This area is perfect for expats who appreciate cooler climates, natural beauty, and a slower, more rural lifestyle. The cost of living is low, and the region is dotted with artisan markets, waterfalls, and hiking trails. The Ruta de las Flores is also a cultural corridor with a rich tradition of Salvadoran arts and crafts.

Travel Tip: Don't miss the Juayúa Food Festival held every weekend, where you can indulge in a variety of traditional Salvadoran dishes.

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

William Russell
William Russell

William Russell
William Russell

El Zonte, El Salvador

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